Welcome to stress city, population: everyone


Pastor Bob ChellColumnist

I tell folks I can tell when I have a good sermon because I feel particularly hypocritical. If I’m correct in my assumption the article you’re reading will be the best I’ve ever written. There are few things which garner universal consensus on campus these days. Those who trudge across campus for 8 a.m. classes may be united in despising winter but there are always one or two classmates who dissent claiming it’s “brisk,’ or “one should embrace the rhythm of the seasons’. These idiots live nearby or are driving Dad’s old ride in which the butt warmers still work.

Still, even these whack jobs will concur with the rest of us, students, faculty and staff alike, they are stressed. It’s the one thing which garners universal agreement these days. We are united in feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, spread to thin, blah, blah, blah. Most of us have tried managing our time and a few sophisticates have gone existential claiming “one cannot manage time but only oneself.’ Get over it; they’re just as stressed as the rest of us.

What’s one to do? Gosh, I don’t know, the opposite of whatever I’m doing, I guess. Sometimes I feel my purpose in life is to serve as a bad example. Oh, we all get a wake up call now and then when life strips our veneer of self importance with the death of a loved one alerting us to what matters or a pink slip reminding us it’s not us. Yet, apart from these times, day to day, we slip deeper into the morass of stress as E-mails, assignments, Facebook alerts (should I post a birthday greeting on their wall a month late?) and readings continue to pile up. Even our social life begins to feel like another thing on our “to do’ list.

Oh, dear reader, I am flummoxed. I know you’re with me now but I don’t know where to lead you. I can’t do it. I have no answers and little wisdom. We both know much of what burdens us we have taken on ourselves. No need or purpose served in my scolding or your self-abasement on this account. We know, too, that some pile it on as if we sat bored and waiting for them to give us a task, whether the other is spouse, professor dean, parent or roommate (add regents if you’re a reader, Dr. C.).

Wouldn’t it be great if we could take Jesus at his word?

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” (Matt. 6:25-27).

Yeah, that would be great.

Rev. Bob Chell is pastor at the University Lutheran Center south of Brown Hall. Reach him at [email protected]